Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Guest Post - LeTesha Wheeler

Today I'm so excited to have a guest post authored by LeTesha Wheeler.  When I asked LeTesha if she'd like to guest post here I left it completely open-ended for her to share what was on her heart and she did just that.

LeTesha Wheeler is a passionate influencer, author and speaker whose greatest desire is to motivate others to walk in the fullness of their purpose, overcome fear, and stand strong in their faith despite life’s biggest obstacles. LeTesha’s life experiences and family heritage have fueled her voice for reconciliation within her local community and the nation.



Like many of you, I am a mother. I carpool, cook, clean, feed, wash, work, church, cheer, run, and cry between many tasks, responsibilities, roles, joys, hurts, pains and journeys just like you.  I work full time. I serve at church. I love bible studies. I enjoy spending time with like minded women.  I am a sports mom of two boys, 16 and 14. They wrestle, fight, annoy each other, make up,  play video games, and repeat. It’s called being best friends, aka brothers. You know the story. You mothers of boys experience it every day as well as. My family is like your family. We breathe in life each day. We seek value in our identity. We hope for a future.


I am bi-racial. My mother is white and my father is black. My husband is also bi-racial. So, our boys are very bi-racial. My oldest son may be assumed as black because his skin tone is darker and hair is tighter. My younger son looks mixed with lighter, more dirty blonde hair and hazel eyes. Because I am raised in a multi-cultural family, we have aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins that are white. We have aunts, uncles, grandparents that are black. And mixed.  Family reunions include sweet potato pie at big mama’s ( black grandmother) house and pumpkin pie at grandma’s house. We jam to 70s funk at one cousins house and Pearl Jam at another. Methodist church with one relative, Catholic or  Baptist with another. We love our family and our families love us; black, white and mixed. My boys have formed genuine relationships with their black relatives to understand their stories, as well as with their white family members. As a child I lived in 3 states that were ethnically, politically, and socioeconomically different from each other. I attended thirteen schools by age fifteen that allowed me relationships with white, black, Korean, Russian, African, Iranian, Vietmanese and creole. I got to eat in their homes. I got to see their cultures up close and personal. We lived in residences that ranged from temporary housing to houses with swimming pools. I got to see first hand how each political party helped or hurt the demographics of the communities I lived in depending on the people groups. My husband and I have taught our boys to love people, forgive ignorance or assaults and not to assume people are prejudiced because of skin color. We trust God and his plan for our lives more than we fear man.

We have all differences. It’s what makes the world a beautiful place. Diversity. I truly believe God created every human being unique down to their genetic DNA. Before they were formed in their mother's womb. No one is a mistake and that every one of us has a specific destiny. We are created equal in the eyes of God. God values every life. That is what I teach my boys. I bet, that is what many of us moms teach our kids. And I bet, many of our kids believe that until. Until, they have an interaction or experience that teaches them otherwise. For my boys, that experience is race.


What experiences might that include? My oldest is 16. He is working on his driver’s license. We had ‘the talk’ with him. No, not the birds and bees talk. The ‘driving while black’ talk. It’s not fair. It’s not joyful. It’s tough and it’s emotional. Boys are boys. If you have one or more, you know that jumping off roof tops, flips in the pool, and practical jokes are their middle names especially when they are with their teen friends. If they get in trouble, which one of the boys will likely be blamed harsher, be looked at more intently or judged pre-maturely?

Boys are easy when it comes to clothes. Shorts and a t-shirt (probably still wrinkled from under the bed). In the winter, it’s still shorts but at least a sweatshirt. My son loves the color black. When I saw him get out of the car to grab a sandwich with me at Subway once, my heart fell to the ground when I saw what the world may see him as. A brown boy in a black hoodie. I quickly yelled at him as if he were in trouble. It was not his fault. It was his mother’s response to what she saw on the news. Many times.

Hair products. Being bi-racial makes this topic very hard. It’s called, buy every hair product that ranges from too much grease to not enough oil that your bathroom cabinet and budget can handle because no one has mastered this yet. (yes that could be a hashtag).

We have a golf cart and like most teens, mine like rap. I tell them when we drive past neighbors to turn it down so they are judged as thugs.  My boys have hit puberty. Girls now bring butterflies.  But they attend mostly all white schools. How will a white father feel about his daughter dating a brown boy? How will the community feel? How will the white male adults in the restaurant feel or say if they go to dinner together? When slavery is discussed in history. Why do all the white students slowly turn their head towards my sons and awkwardly look away? Why does this topic make my son feel so alone during this several week history lesson? Worse, why don't any of his friends or teachers know this makes him feel this way? How does it feel being one of the only kids of color in a school? Different. Awkward. Alone. Angry. Not because they are one of the only - because the majority does not think, stop, or pause to understand the dynamics of the very experiences listed above, among many real life issues. Lack of education leads to ignorance. 

How do we fill this gap? Relationships. I gained my understanding through relationships not only with my white and black families, but also through my cultural friendships. Relationships give eyesight into the dynamics of culture when it comes to ethnicity, politics, socio-economically and religious convictions. I’ve learned before I speak up, out or against anyone or anything - I need to speak from experience, not opinions. The experience of my German grandmother taught me that it was more important to risk the safety of your own life then living a safe quiet life, when she smuggled  her mother across the Berlin wall while being shot at.  The experience of my black grandmother educated me to the evil oppression of segregation and racism in the south, as she shared how white men would try to squash her value. Our understanding is limited without understanding the experiences of others. I am intentional in raising my boys to be in relationships with people that are different than they are, so they can know their stories. 


As a mother, if you were to ask me how could you help make change in today’s world I would say, relationship. Please go out of your way to invite, seek after and get to know a family that does not look like you, vote like you, attend your same denomination or even live on your side of town.  Learn. Listen. Hear their stories. Then, and only then can we build bridges across cultures because we can have true empathy and love for each other. We cannot love people we are not in a relationship with.  It is not enough that you have a brown or black family on the sports team that you wave to and cheer with during the ball game. Sitting at Subway between the tournament games does not count. Invite them into your home. Go to their homes. Walk into their world. Share a meal. Share stories. Share your life. That’s how you share your love.  That’s how you value life. Relationships are the answer. 


If you'd like to read more of LeTesha's writing  you can check out her book, Half Breed: Finding Unity in a Divided World, on Amazon or her website  HERE.

35 comments :

  1. It was beautiful to read this- thank you for inspiring us all to be better

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for doing this, Andrea! I appreciate hearing from her perspective. The part about her son wearing a black hoodie brought a big lump in my throat. I really hope things change after all of this. That's not the first time I've heard a mom being concerned about her son wearing that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So good! Thanks for inviting LeTesha and sharing your space with her. I am headed to her website now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! This was written so beautifully. LeTesha, thank you for sharing your very personal and powerful perspective on raising your boys (so handsome!) and your thoughts on how to foster the relationships that we all need.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bravo! That was one of the best things I have read over these past few weeks. As a Mom, i am struggling (but still trying and will continue to try) to explain and teach my my kids and myself. This perspective brings all the pieces together for me. Thank you Le Tesha and Andrea. Very. Well. Done!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! This is so good! Thank you for sharing LeTesha and her family with us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was exactly what I need to read this morning, thank you for sharing with us LeTesha!

    ReplyDelete
  8. LeTesha, thank you for these words and photos of your family! Relationship. YES! Thank you Andrea for pointing us her way!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for inviting LeTesha. Such an invaluable perspective and a simple call to action.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for this. We adopted our foster care son (who is black) and I'm navigating a lot of this since we are white and live in a mostly white neighbor.

    ReplyDelete
  11. LeTesha, thank you so much for sharing your experiences, perspective and thoughts of how we can do better. You have a beautiful family and raising teen boys is no joke!;).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you so much for inspiring us all to be better.

    ReplyDelete
  13. First, what a beautiful family LeTesha has! This was eye opening and sad to me at the same time. I saw the picture of her boys in their black hoodies and thought that they looked so cool with their sunglasses on, but it made me sad that she has to worry about how society sees her boys in them. Plus when she wrote that when slavery is talked about in school, that her son felt alone. I have never looked at it from that perspective and we should be. Thank you for such a beautifully written blog post and for really opening my eyes!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank You so much for sharing this and LeTesha, for sharing your words!
    I read your blog every day and don't always comment but I just really wanted to thank you for this today.
    We all need to do better and be better..."In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND"!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I cried several times reading this beautifully written post. Thank you so, so much for sharing your a small bit of your story and experience, LeTesha. My heart breaks reading some of what you, your husband, and your sons have had to experience. I, too, believe that when we are in relationships with individuals that are different from us, we can truly begin to love them well and have empathy, as you mentioned, for their life experiences. What an incredible family you have... your oldest son reminds me a bit of my oldest nephew. :) Continuing to pray for the Lord to change hearts and minds. Andrea, thank you for using your voice to allow LeTesha to share hers. It is refreshing to see the rubber meeting the road. Hope you continue to have guest posts on racial injustice / reconciliation. Christ's blessings to both you and LeTesha.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for sharing! You have a beautiful family ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful message from a beautiful lady with a beautiful family. I grew up thinking (as a white person) that black
    people aren’t any different than me. But as I’ve gotten older and learned more about the world and racism, I’m sad to see there is a difference in how we live and are treated. I truly wish we were all the same and everyone was treated the same, with no preconceived views or stereotypes. I’m hoping with eduction and compassion, future generations will be different. Thanks to Andrea for allowing LaTesha to share.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you so much for sharing, LaTesha! Thanks for bringing this to us, Andrea!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for sharing your life, LaTesha. Your story is so helpful and informative.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you for sharing...hearing about your experiences are helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you LeTesha for sharing your family and experiences on Andrea's blog. As a former teacher, I despise the thought of your sons feeling alone when the topic of slavery, the history and treatment of black people are discussed in their classrooms. I appreciate your suggestions and embrace the idea that building genuine relationships with people that are different from us in many ways is the path forward to uniting us.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m an elementary educator and have spent the past week researching and reaching out to friends about books for elementary age students. The goal is not only to read about important people of color, but also to see everyday picture books with people of color as the main characters. I have created an extensive list of over 300 books. Please consider supporting my effort to build more diverse classroom libraries. The link to my page is here –>https://gf.me/u/x8bfqg and it has a link to my Amazon List with all of the titles for your reference as well. Thanks for your support!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is SO good!! Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Well, she is beautiful both inside and out!! I loved reading her story, Andrea!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Such a beautiful family, thank you for sharing your heart!!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you for sharing your heart and opening my eyes!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Andrea, thank you for using your platform to help us all better educate ourselves. and to LeTesha, thank you so much for sharing your heart. May God bless both of your families.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I was going to enter one word Amen But I think it's too early to say thatWe still have a long roadTo go

    ReplyDelete
  30. I Was going to Enter one word A Men I think we still have a long road to goLove to all

    ReplyDelete
  31. What a BLESSING to hear what I've experienced being bi-racial and LIGHT skinned growing up in diversity. I appreciate you doing this. Your family is beautiful and I can't thank you enough for sharing the joy of raising beautiful young men of color. GOD is FAITHFUL

    ReplyDelete

Blog design by Get Polished | Copyright 2016